Advancing Spiking Neural Networks Toward Deep Residual Learning

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL NETWORKS AND LEARNING SYSTEMS(2024)

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Abstract
Despite the rapid progress of neuromorphic computing, inadequate capacity and insufficient representation power of spiking neural networks (SNNs) severely restrict their application scope in practice. Residual learning and shortcuts have been evidenced as an important approach for training deep neural networks, but rarely did previous work assessed their applicability to the specifics of SNNs. In this article, we first identify that this negligence leads to impeded information flow and the accompanying degradation problem in a spiking version of vanilla ResNet. To address this issue, we propose a novel SNN-oriented residual architecture termed MS-ResNet, which establishes membrane-based shortcut pathways, and further proves that the gradient norm equality can be achieved in MS-ResNet by introducing block dynamical isometry theory, which ensures the network can be well-behaved in a depth-insensitive way. Thus, we are able to significantly extend the depth of directly trained SNNs, e.g., up to 482 layers on CIFAR-10 and 104 layers on ImageNet, without observing any slight degradation problem. To validate the effectiveness of MS-ResNet, experiments on both frame-based and neuromorphic datasets are conducted. MS-ResNet104 achieves a superior result of 76.02% accuracy on ImageNet, which is the highest to the best of our knowledge in the domain of directly trained SNNs. Great energy efficiency is also observed, with an average of only one spike per neuron needed to classify an input sample. We believe our powerful and scalable models will provide strong support for further exploration of SNNs.
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Key words
Degradation problem,neuromorphic computing,residual neural network,spiking neural network (SNN)
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